Stanley Marsh 3 – Day 37

Stanley Marsh 3

Day 37 – May 7, 2003 – Wednesday

As much as we liked Rugby and Cedric at the Marriott Residence Inn, our room was next to the highway, and $129 to hear cars all night long was no bargain.  Our directions to the travel agent should now include quiet room as well as non-smoking King guaranteed for late arrival.


Our day began at B&W Mailing Center where we shipped 44 pounds of accumulated brochures and books back to the Intergalactic Headquarters for the Round America Tour in Atlanta, Georgia.  When we walked in, April and Jamie were in admittedly rotten moods.  Before long, we were telling stories, and they were rolling on the floor laughing.  It’s so nice to be able to brighten someone else’s day!


We mentioned going to see the sawed-off giant’s legs, and April and Jamie piled on with more tips.  They told us how to get to the residence of local helium tycoon Stanley Marsh 3, the eccentric who did Cadillac Ranch and the sawed-off giant’s legs.  They also told us to be on the lookout for diamond-shaped official-looking highway signs, but they will say any of a variety of things.  Stanley Marsh 3 will provide them to anyone who will put them up on their property.

Our first stop on the Stanley Marsh 3 Tour was Cadillac Ranch.  It’s at Exit 60 off I-40 on the south side of the highway.  Cadillac Ranch is ten Cadillacs planted in a field owned by Stanley Marsh 3 with their tail fins pointing up.  Cadillac Ranch was created in 1974 by the Ant Farm, comprised of three experimental artists, Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez, and Doug Michels.  The cars range from a 1949 Cadillac Club Coupe to a 1963 sedan.  Here’s an article that has photos of the Cadillac Ranch when it was first built —


There always seems to be a steady stream of people stopping.  Cadillac Ranch is definitely something quirky to see, and I took a lot of photos.  The thing to do is take spray paint, and paint whatever you like on the Cadillacs.  There are always a number of empty paint cans littering the ground, but someone obviously cleans the place up regularly, or there would be thousands.  You’d have to know what goes on in the mind of Stanley Marsh 3 to even guess at what prompted him to do this.  But as we soon realized, just about anything could be going on in Stanley Marsh 3’s head.


Our next stop was Toad Hall.  Yep, that’s the name of Stanley Marsh 3’s home – a big ranch hidden from view on the outskirts of town.  We took a picture of the sign and saw a hubcap painted red with a heart cut out of the center, but nothing more bizarre at the entrance.  We drove around the south side of the property on the city road, and we spotted his windmill – sporting a bright red bowtie.  Just down the ways from it, on Stanley Marsh 3’s property, but facing the passing traffic, was a big yellow diamond-shaped official-looking highway sign that said “Road Does Not End.”  Now wouldn’t you like to know what Stanley Marsh 3 means by that, if anything!


The third stop on the Stanley Marsh 3 Tour was to see various signs he has erected on property around town.  Everything from a sign that says “Mysterious Catastrophe” to one that claimed on this spot a pack of wild Chihuahuas attacked conquistadors and ate them for snacks.  We learned that Stanley Marsh 3 has placed more than 5,000 of these signs in the Amarillo area (population 250,000)!  The signs vary from simple messages to reproductions of famous paintings.  The “Road Does Not End” sign on Marsh’s property was the first.  A sign with a picture of Marilyn Monroe was then placed on Monroe Street.  There are some really funny signs and some that make little sense at all.  We’d be like the guy driving around Texas with the map and the yellow marker if we tried to see them all, especially since there is no map to them, so we just saw four or five and went on to the next part of the Stanley Marsh 3 Tour.


The last stop on the Tour was at two sawed off giant’s legs planted in a field south of town.  There’s an extremely official-looking plaque with a Texas seal similar to those found on real historic markers, but there is a confusing story about a giant named Ozymandias.  Wacko sense of humor for sure.


We loved seeing the giant’s legs, Toad Hall, the windmill, and all the signs.  We’d have never seen them or known about them if we hadn’t asked simple questions to Rugby, April and Jamie.  I just wonder what all Stanley Marsh 3 has done that we didn’t know about.  We did hear that he has a yet to be realized scheme to create “rainbow towers” using water vapor.


In a recent vote conducted by the Amarillo Globe newspaper after Stanley Marsh 3 ran an advertisement looking for acrobats, jugglers, unicyclists, and other circus-related performers, 43% said Marsh 3 is a genius who gives Amarillo personality while 38% said he is a ridiculously foolish eccentric who is an embarrassment to Amarillo, while 19% say they haven’t figured him out yet.  I think Stanley Marsh 3 is great!  He gives Amarillo personality!  Here are the poll results and some great comments —


Next to Cadillac Ranch, the best-known spot in Amarillo is the Big Texan Steak Ranch.  The restaurant opened in the 50’s, and they have always advertised a Free 72 72-ounce steak, if you can eat their meal (which includes shrimp cocktail, salad, baked potato, and bread) in one hour or less.  6,000 people have succeeded, and their names are carefully logged in a book.  It’s a classic Texas place with great Texas décor, what may be the world’s largest rocking chair, with fun stuff to see inside and out.  Our food was great.  I had a delicious barbeque plate – huge servings.  Bozzie had a vegetable plate.  We had no room for dessert.


While the place and the food were great, the highlight was meeting and getting to know our waiter, Lesley.  Lesley is from Brenham, Texas.  He is in school at West Texas A&M.  He is studying to be a music teacher, and he plays the trombone.  Unknown to his girlfriend, Miss Katy, he has bought a ring, and he plans to ask her to marry him.  Unfortunately, Katy’s Dad doesn’t approve of Lesley, and he pulled Katy out of school to get her away from him.  We talked to Lesley for a half hour or more, and if Katy were our daughter, we’d be mighty proud to have Lesley seek her hand in marriage!  We have Lesley’s email address, so we will be checking in to see how the proposal went.  He gave Bozzie Jane a big hug when we said goodbye after lunch.  How could anyone not like a fine young man who gives you a big bear hug the first time you meet him?!


Down to Lubbock we went.  This is a planned detour off Route 66 as both Boz and I went to school at Texas Tech University.  We met and fell in love in “the Hub City,” and we were married soon after my graduation on June 19, 1971.  We’ve both driven that route many times, but it always seems longer than you remember it to be.  Bozzie noted that it is, however, still flat, still windy, and still dusty.


We took a few photos in Happy, Texas.  We got several Happy signs, a photo of the Happy Center, the Happy Fire Department, and more.  It’s a Happy place.


We passed through the little West Texas towns of Canyon, Tulia, Kress, Plainview, Hale Center, Abernathy and New Deal.  We had college friends from all of those places.  We loved seeing the smaller version of the Statue of Liberty in front of a motel in Kress.  We were ripped off at a Texaco station in New Deal.  Their Coke machine ate my dollar but gave nothing in return, and the Texaco station refused to give me a dollar.  With 500 gallons behind me and perhaps 900 gallons yet to come (on this trip alone), Texaco will not see another penny of my money.  I was not Happy.


Lubbockites are called Lucky Me’s by those of us who attended college there in the 60’s and looked forward to graduating and seeing Lubbock in our rearview mirrors.  The tag came from a 1960’s advertising campaign and bumper sticker that used the slogan “Lucky Me, I Live in Lubbock.”


When we reached Lubbock, we stopped at one of the unique spots in Lubbock – Prairie Dog Town.  It’s a dirt field in Mackenzie Park where a large number of prairie dogs live.  It used to be a favorite of high school and college kids on dates as there are no lights and lots of room to park and mess around.  Mr. and Mrs. K. N. Clapp originated the town in 1932.  Lubbock should get a new sign for the place, as it looks like it was made by the folks at Sponge-O-Rama.


We then drove to the home of our two favorite Lucky Me’s, Steve (aka Archibald Barasol) and Melinda (aka Berlinda) Shanklin.  I met Steve and Melinda in high school, and Steve and I were pledge brothers in Delta Tau Delta fraternity.  Steve was also my partner in my first business venture, a business selling fraternity and sorority clothing, party favors, jewelry, etc.  I sold my 75% of the business to Steve when I graduated, and he and his parents operated the business very successfully for 20 years before they sold it.  (His buyer screwed it up and went out of business shortly thereafter.  Watch out Blue Swallow.)  Steve was the Best Man in our wedding, and we have always considered Steve and Berlinda to be among our closest friends.


Steve is the best storyteller I have ever met.  He is extremely funny, and Berlinda is extremely smart and has an incredible wit.  Berlinda would be a great Erma Bombeck-like writer.  We always love getting together with the Shanklins as the stories will be flying.  Our all-time favorite is Steve’s story of the toe-tap drain.  I won’t try to tell it here, but I will have to put it in the book.  It’s a story about going to stay at a friend’s beautiful new home.  Before we retired for the evening, Steve took me in the bathroom to show me the ins and outs of the bathtub and shower we would be using.  After the toe-tap drain, we figured this is mandatory for any and all house guests at the Shanklin home.


We are the most unlikely of friends in some ways.  Steve and Berlinda have lived in the same house their entire married life.  Steve’s parents lived in only one house for all of their married lives.  Steve has had the same job and same secretary for 28 years.  Barbara and I, on the other hand, have lived in 18 places (soon to be 19) in 10 cities in 32 years of marriage.  I’ve never been involved in any one business for over five years.  It was major news when Steve and Berlinda announced that they were thinking of buying a new home, and even bigger news to learn a few days later that they have actually signed a contract.  I just hope Steve can handle the stress.


Actually, Daisy has been a bigger concern than Steve.  Daisy is the Shanklin’s dog.  She’s deaf and blind.  She gets around in their home as she knows where everything is.  Moving may be traumatic, but their vet has given them a plan for how to deal with it.


Steve enjoyed a colonoscopy this morning, so we weren’t sure he would be up for dinner, but he rallied.  We went to Flatlanders, a place in an alley right near where Steve and I had our first store at 2420 13th Street.  We dropped by the old place and took a photo.  I can remember when I rented the store in 1970.  It was $75 a month.  I had no money, so I actually became a real estate person before I opened the store, as I went around to other student entrepreneurs and subleased walls and parts of the store so I would be there rent-free.  In addition to selling fraternity and sorority sportswear, party favors, jewelry, and mugs, I started a bail bond service for students, was the campus representative for Humble Oil (now Exxon), Playboy Magazine, and assorted others, and I got a deal selling factory outlet doubleknit slacks provided by Bozzie Jane’s sister Judy.  I subleased space to Joe Little, a guy who did fraternity and sorority paddles, and to another guy, Delray Lefevre, who did party pictures.  The place had more names than we had product lines.  But it was profitable, a great learning experience, and our success with that little business probably kept both Steve and me from miserable lives as attorneys.


Back to the present.  We had dinner at Flatlanders, and we toured the Texas Tech campus.  We saw a number of fabulous new buildings, the very impressive United Spirit Arena where Bobby Knight runs the men’s basketball show, and we saw the major construction underway at the football stadium.  If you can forget that Lubbock is as flat as a pancake, lacks water, and the dust often fills the sky, we believe the Texas Tech campus is very beautiful.  The school has made consistent use of the same style of Spanish architecture, and it’s a huge campus – largest campus in terms of size in the USA. We made sure to get a photo of the Will Rogers statue.  Rumor always had it that Will would get off his horse whenever a virgin graduated from Tech.  He’s still up there.


We went by the Hi-D-Ho before we returned to the Shanklins’ home.  Lubbock had three fantastic drive-in restaurants when we were in high school and college – the Char King, the White Pig, and the Hi-D-Ho.  As high schoolers, we would cruise through the Char-King and park and hope someone of the opposite sex might have the courage to speak to us.  A common date was a “Coke Date,” where you would pick up a girl and go to Char King and get a Coke and talk.


The White Pig was near Tech and was a college hangout with very good burgers and fries.  The Hi-D-Ho was also near Texas Tech, and it was known as a wilder place.  To go Ho-ing was to cruise through the Hi-D-Ho looking for a date or two.  The Char King and White Pig have gone the way of the wrecking ball.  As has the Hi-D-Ho, but someone built a new place and is calling it the Hi-D-Ho.  It’s not the same, but it’s better than the long-forgotten Char King and White Pig.


The Shanklin kids, Whitney and Chris, came by to see us.  Really fine young people.  Whitney has been doing missionary work, and Chris is in medical school at Texas Tech.


We had a great time visiting all the Shanklins!


As we’ve said before, little is as much fun as getting together with old friends.



May 7, 2003

We stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn in a room right next to the highway. We heard cars all night. For $129 it was not a bargain, but we were able to get a good internet connection and do quite a bit of updating to the website. I got about 4 days worth of pictures and one day worth of story up.

37336 We’re leaving the hotel at about 11:30. We’re leaving this late because we are just headed down to Lubbock today and Steve is having his colonoscopy this morning. Bozzie Jane’s here and her dad has perhaps had a little mini-stroke so we may have a little change in plans.

We had a great time at the mailing place, B and W. April and Jamie who shipped 44 pounds of accumulated brochures and other stuff. They were in a bad mood when we arrived and after we were there they were just so happy and smiley. It was really nice to be able to brighten someone’s day. They told us several interesting things relative to Stanley Marsh. We are going to have to do at least one of those. We’re on the way now pulling up to Cadillac Ranch which is at about exit 60 off of I-40 on Route 66. It’s on the south side of the road and there’s a little walkway so you’re able to walk out there and see the artwork which is painted on the cadillacs.

36353 12:43 We’re leaving the Cadillac Ranch.

36736 12:56 We’re at Toad Hall, the residence of Stanley Marsh III. He was one of the most eccentric men around.

As we were getting ready to leave Stanley’s Toad Hall, we spotted his windmill. It has a bowtie and then there’s a simple little sign along the highway that says “road does not end.”

We just had a really good meal at the Big Texas Steakranch in Amarillo. Bill had a really good BBQ plate, and Barbara had a vegetable plate with wonderful yeast rolls. Our waiter was Lesley, a really nice young man from Brenam, Texas. He plays the trombone and goes to school here. He’s getting a teaching degree and hopefully getting engaged tomorrow night. He has a ring for his soon-to-be fiancé and she doesn’t know it; her name is Katy. We took his picture and he was a really special young man. We wish him the best. He has a problem in that his soon-to-be father-in law does not like him but we’re hoping and praying that everything will work out for him.

We’re getting ready to leave at 2:15 and head to Lubock.

37374 2:15 Leaving the Big Texan Steakranch

37396 2:53 We’re leaving the ruins of the Ozzimandus? Legs.

We’re in Canyon. There’s a huge tumbleweed blowing down the highway at us. 37403 3:00pm

Canyon is the home of West Texas A&M University where Lesley goes to school. Barbara just noted that West Texas is still flat, still windy, still dusty.

37423 3:27 We’re leaving Happy, Texas. 647 people live in Happy.

We’re in Tulia 37435 3:40pm

We’re taking a picture of the Statue of Liberty in Tulia. They’re probably trying to follow along on the same theme as Sioux City.

Crest 37455 4:02pm

Plain View 37466 4:12pm

37481 Hail Center 4:25pm

Abernathy 37498 4:41pm

New Deal 37512 4:47pm

Lubock 37512 5:08pm

Prairie Dog Town 37516 5:15pm

It’s 88 degrees in Lubbock. By far the hottest in many many miles.

There’s a train.